For Melissa Cohen, the memory of a former neighbor living in an abusive relationship motivates her to help other victims. “I saw firsthand how CHANA helped her and was blown away by the care and level of support,” says Melissa. That was in 2012.
She wanted to help, but Melissa, mother of five young children, knew she had limited time to volunteer.
What she could do was cook. “We thought it would be so nice for a client to know that someone cared enough to prepare a meal for her,” remembers Melissa. She recruited a handful of friends to prepare meals.
Today, Melissa has a team of nearly 50 women. Each week, one woman prepares a meal for six people. Meals are cooked in strictly kosher kitchens. Women who want to help but do not keep kosher provide a gift card from a local kosher restaurant or caterer. The women drop off meals at Melissa’s home. Her Husband, Ivan, and children take the meal to CHANA each week. It’s a luxury to have someone cook for you,” she says. Though none of the women, including Melissa, ever meet recipients, the joy of doing is its own reward. “People want to help. Our women often include heartfelt notes. It’s a way to show we care.”
Melissa, whose mother-in-law, Mimi Cohen, was a CHANA board member, cherishes the legacy of giving back. “My children are learning the importance of helping others who may be in a difficult place and may not have the same privileges and opportunities they have.” Her children are also learning the power of community. One meal at a time.
[Pictured: Melissa’s husband, Ivan, and their daughter prepare a meal for a CHANA client.]